‘SystemSix’ imagines a classic Macintosh we never got | Cult of Mac

‘SystemSix’ imagines a classic Macintosh we never got


‘SystemSix’ imagines a classic Macintosh we never got
If someone in 1985 imaginged a Mac made in 2022, it might look like SystemSix.
Photo: John Calhoun

Imagine a 1980s-era Macintosh merged with today’s iMac. The result probably looks a lot like SystemSix. The creator calls it “a kind of love-letter to my first Macintosh.”

This hand-made device was assembled from an eInk display, an acrylic stand, a Raspberry Pi 3 and code written in Python.

SystemSix is more art than computer

SystemSix is the creation of John Calhoun, who writes about the build process on his website, Engineers Need Art. He shares the details of how he went about making the device. The code is even on GitHub.

But those temped to make their own version need to go in aware this device is not a Macintosh. “It looks like a computer display you could click on or touch the screen of, but it is quite static — only displaying your calendar events and the weather forecast in a retro, computer-like interface,” warns Calhoun.

To be clear, the display isn’t static — it’s just not interactive. But it is useful nevertheless. Calhoun calls it a desk calendar. And one that looks much like Mac OS System 6 from 1988.

The code he wrote allows it to pull upcoming events from a public calendar and display them like they’re files in a folder. Configure SystemSix with latitude and longitude in the settings and it displays the local weather forecast in the “Scrapbook.” At night, it displays the current phase of the moon.

The screen is set into a stand with the basic shape of a Macintosh from 1984, except flat instead of boxy. That makes it look like the result of someone in the mid-‘80 imagining a computer built in 2022.

Despite its limited usefulness, anyone who fondly remembers a 1980s-era Macintosh is sure to see the nostalgia appeal of having a SystemSix in their office.

More Macintosh/iMac mergers

Calhoun isn’t the first to go on a nostalgia quest and merge an early Macintosh with today’s iMac.

There’s Retro Macintosh from designer Ian Zelbo. This concept puts an Apple M2 processor and color screen into a flat Mac reminiscent of the front of Apple’s computer from 38 years ago.

Another concept is the CURVED/labs Lisa, which uses an aluminum stand to create a flat-panel Mac with the front of the original Macintosh.

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